Monday, November 13, 2006

Fuck me, Sherman Alexie?

Breaking news flash - The Stranger ran an op-ed from a writer whose viewpoint is totally unexpected considering this person's place in society and furthermore this op-ed is written in an edgy, anti-establishment tone and style. People, this is unprecedented!

Noted Native American author Sherman Alexie delivers the dignified dying yelp of a franchise bleeding to death. Am I wrong about that? Why else would The Stranger run Alexie's column after endorsing VOTE YES on Initiative 91? It's because The Stranger wanted to give Sonics fans one last slap in the face. Am I the only one who sees the ridiculous and cruel irony they're playing on us here? I have very little respect for The Stranger as a newspaper. Karl can back me up on this considering their recent endorsement of Jamie Pedersen's Republican opponent, Hugh Foskett (who's my math partner, as it turns out... really cool guy).

I relished the part where famed novelist Alexie writes:
"I know that a few of you, like Seattle City Council Member Nick Licata, think that the Sonics in particular and professional sports in general have negligible cultural value. Well, I say this to Mr. Licata and to all of you who agree with him: Fuck you."
I actually ended up voting AGAINST the new stadium contract rules because the P-I ran a very convincing editorial endorsement against it.

But Alexie is being loud and irreverent - which is exactly why
The Stranger ran his column. He practically implies that Sonics fans have a "right" to have a place in Seattle to watch basketball. He equates Ray Allen and Luke Ridnour, among the finest examples in a field that's been in serious existence less than a century, to Dickinson and Einstein and Michelangelo - that is totally ludicrous and he must know it.

The "shock value" of an establishment ivory-tower liberal coming out and saying "tisk tisk" to the yuppies was almost too good for The Stranger to pass up. It's too bad The Stranger always fulfills its tired,
cliché expectations.

Alexie's column is even less respectable for the fact that he plays right into
The Stranger's mold of finding the most unlikely spokespeople possible. Alexie goes out of his way to construct his narrator's identity as the non-white, non-Republican, non-rich, non-illiterate Sonics fan.
"I grew up dirt-ass poor, so drinking Starbucks feels like a privilege, like something I've earned through luck and hard work."

"I am a reservation-raised Indian boy, whose mother and father barely graduated high school and never went to college, and I have grown to become a very successful writer."
He plays a stranger identity politics in his writing to support possibly the most conservative of civic policies - subsidizing an entertainment industry. And suddenly, the white bleeding heart liberal readership of The Stranger has no "politically correct" way to disagree with its Native American hero, Sherman Alexie. Dan Savage couldn't have made it up better. I haven't read Alexie's stories or novels, and I this is something I hope to remedy soon because I hear (and believe) they're quite good. But in this op-ed, he's so self-aware of his "model minority" privilege that it's kinda disgusting.

I mean, come on - read some of what Alexie's written here. It's like a Republican values brochure:
"Yep, I am a believer in that sentimental crap known as the American dream. Why do I believe in it? Because I am the American dream."

"I think that certain people do hate greatness. And I most definitely know that certain American leftists absolutely despise capitalistic greatness."
Saying that "the American dream" is "sentimental crap" in the same breath as you say you are the "American dream" belies the fact that not only do you not believe it's sentimental crap, but you are also so aware of your irreverence-factor that you relish saying that it is sentimental crap nonetheless.

Alexie admits to being a 10-year season ticket holder. Is he the sort of "typical fan" for which we find supporters of stadium subsidies whipping up sentimental support among the electorate? How rich do you have to be to be a ten-year season ticket holder?

This has nothing to do with whether sport brings cultural value and "city-ness" to a city - of course it does! Councilman Licata is an idiot for suggesting otherwise.

But there is no "right" to sport. There is, however, a right to education and mobility and public health and safety. If the city has money to spare, it must be spent on those first and foremost. Furthermore, public patronage of cultural activities must prioritize those activities that could not otherwise exist at all - ones without entire industrial-commerical complexes supporting them. But as long as multi-million dollar monopolies control the basketball entertainment industry, I'm not too sympathetic to the greed of team owners, nor to the mere nostalgia of sincere fans as a reason to capitulate to them.

Am I an "uncaring" citizen because this is what I believe? I ask because that's what Alexie is suggesting I am. Fuck me?

1 comment:

jared said...

i had a similar reaction to Alexie's piece. I for one am overjoyed that another multi-billion dollar worthless industry is leaving seattle. Alexie's conflicted values come across as muddled and immature.